Spanking leads to increased aggression and lowered cognitive abilities

Another study has recently come out showing the negative effects of spanking in toddlers.  The study published in Child Development found that,

“The study found that children who were spanked at age 1 had more aggressive behaviors at age 2 and performed worse on measures of thinking abilities at age 3.”

The also negated several excuses often used to support spanking.  1.  That some kids are more aggressive and thus more likely to get spanked e.g. the spanking did not lead to the aggression.  and 2.  cultures that support spanking remove the negative impacts since it is normative.  The found the opposite was true: The implication or the suggestion in past arguments is that some kids who are more aggressive or difficult to control might elicit more spanking, but that’s not what we found”  and “Even in a sample of low-income people where presumably it’s more normative to spank your kids, we found negative effects.”  The study author, Berlin, said.

Fellow researcher, Gershoff said, “Almost all the studies point to negative effects of spanking,  It makes kids more aggressive, more likely to be delinquent and to have mental health problems. The more kids are spanked, the more they are likely to be physically abused by their parents. This does not mean everyone who spanks physically abuses, but that risk is there.” 

Spanking is counterproductive, ineffective, and dangerous.  Yes, even those “light slaps” on the hand.  For more information about the effects of spanking and alternatives, see the Stop Hitting campaign and Project NoSpank.

Why are spankings, slaps, and even apparently harmless blows like pats on the hand dangerous for a baby?

  1. They teach it (the baby) violence
  2. They destroy the infallible certainty of being loved that the baby needs
  3. They cause anxiety; the expectancy of the next break
  4. They convey a lie: they pretend to be educational, but parents actually use them to vent their anger; when they strike, it’s because, as children, they were struck themselves
  5. They provoke anger and a desire for revenge, which remain repressed only to be expressed much later
  6. They program the child to accept illogical arguments (I’m hurting you for your own good) that stay stored up in their body
  7. They destroy sensitivity and compassion for others and for oneself, and hence limit the capacity to gain insight

What long-term lessons does the baby retain from spankings and other blows?
The baby learns:

  1. That a child does not deserve respect
  2. That good can be learned through punishment (which is usually wrong, since punishment merely teaches the children to want to punish on their own turn)
  3. That suffering mustn’t be felt, it must be ignored (which is dangerous to the immune system)
  4. That violence is a manifestation of love (fostering perversion)
  5. That denial of feeling is healthy (but the body pays the price of this error, often much later)

 Finally, I just can’t recommend enough that all parents read Positive Discipline: What it is and How to do it.  Just a great resource on alternatives to spanking that will get better results today and produce a better individual in your child tomorrow.


2 thoughts on “Spanking leads to increased aggression and lowered cognitive abilities

  1. Think i’ve mentioned it before, but i’m very impressed with Sandy McDaniel’s program. She uses something like “time out” but much more effectively. Have read her for years (she used to do a newspaper column) & then met her in person. Very down to earth woman with 2 very nice now-adult children.


  2. Pingback: Choosing Not to Spank

Comments are closed.